Within the span of just a couple of years, most healthcare organizations have resolved their concerns with cloud computing and many are testing cloud platforms with financial, HR and other back office applications. It's the first step toward what will ultimately be widespread use of the cloud to enhance patient care, while also streamlining IT and reducing costs. With ever-growing demand for healthcare and constrained resources for providing it, IT can and must drive the transformation that creates an information-centric environment in which patients have easy access to their records and participate in their own care. Big data analytics drives treatment efficiency and efficacy, and healthcare providers can take advantage of vast knowledge banks to collaborate on tough problems. In healthcare, cloud computing is at the center of this transformation. According to MarketsandMarkets, the global adoption for cloud services in healthcare will grow from $3.73 billion in 2015 to nearly $9.5 billion by 2020.
The momentum behind cloud adoption in healthcare comes as no surprise to us. These days, pretty much every conversation we have with IT leaders includes the words "Microsoft Azure". One of our customers, Houston Eye Associates, is the perfect example of a healthcare provider with a vision and a plan for how cloud computing is taking their organization into the future.
Houston Eye Associates (HEA)--the largest ophthalmology practice in the nation--understood that their IT systems needed a major overhaul for them to achieve their patient care goals. Virtual app delivery is core to HEA's ability to support 29 locations across the US and support future growth, but their existing virtual app solution was causing serious problems that had to be addressed.
Challenge: Improve productivity through reliable, fast access to patient records in exam rooms
A decade after installing its legacy VDI infrastructure, Houston Eye Associates (HEA) was stuck on an old version of Microsoft Windows server. This meant drivers and hardware couldn’t be replaced, which created daily problems for staff dealing with printers and peripherals. It also delayed doctors and patients from leaving exam rooms as they waited to be checked out after exams.
A bigger issue was the almost daily system reboots. Between 4-5 times per week, one of 10 Citrix servers needed to be restarted. This often caused a boot storm because HEA's EMR system was hosted on 3 of its 10 servers. Each time one of those 3 servers restarted, users were booted out and forced to log back in. As a result, doctors lost 30-40 minutes of productivity causing a backup in patient appointments.
HEA’s Director of Information Technology, Tom Merkle, knew that an infrastructure upgrade wouldn’t fix everything: “I either had to go with the new version of Citrix or the new version of VMware Horizon… neither option was appealing. I knew it would require me putting a huge effort into rebuilding the entire system. And after it was all done, I’d still have to worry about delivering apps, and I’d be spending all of my time keeping the systems up and running.”
Solution: Workspot Takes HEA Where it Wants to Go
Tom's vision was for a hybrid approach to delivering Windows apps that would provide HEA with the flexibility to deliver applications from on-premises infrastructure and also allow them to quickly scale to accomodate anticipated growth. That's where Azure comes in. With Workspot delivering virtual apps from Azure, HEA can grow their Affilate-based optometry business on-demand, with zero capital expenditure and without having to staff up the IT department with specialized skill sets. And since private healthcare information (PHI) is being exchanged between HEA and their affiliates, they have to be confident that the data is secure. Not only did Workspot meet all of the scalability and security requirements, but it was also able to support existing, unique workflows HEA had in place so doctors and staff barely noticed the transition to Workspot, other than the dramatic improvement in response times! The system was so much faster and reliable during the rollout that the requests for a Workspot account poured in to IT as soon as word got around about the performance improvement.
“The speed of our systems increased dramatically, saving 30-60 minutes per doctor, per day, of wasted time. That’s the difference between doctors seeing patients on time and being 1 hour behind.”
Tom Merkle, Director of IT, Houston Eye Associates
We are proud to be contributing to HEA's success and growth and grateful for the opportunity to positively impact HEA patients and doctors. Now HEA's IT team can focus on more strategic projects that will accelerate growth, and Tom will tell you that he's pleased he has a little more time to play baseball with his family.
Be sure to access the full case study and video for more details.